Clear public support for HEREFORD BYPASS – Real or fake news?

The correspondence below illustrates how public support for the Hereford Bypass is being mis-represented. Our position is that the recent consultation showed that only 41% of the public who took part want a Bypass. And some of the 41% may have been saying Yes to an Eastern Bypass.

By ‘working the numbers’ Herefordshire Council wants us to believe that the level of support is actually 59%.

Either way, there is clearly not overwhelming support!

And if the decision to go ahead with the Bypass was made back in 2015, why ask the public in 2018 if they support it?

From Jeremy Milln:

Dear Councillor Price,

You didn’t answer my supplementary question at Cabinet meeting this morning (27 July), complaining you could not hear it properly and promised to answer it after the meeting.

An answer, and I mean a direct answer to the question as posed and not a ‘response’ which argues or equivocates, is respectfully requested.

For ease of reference, here is the text:

Obviously if you are prepared to count only a subset of respondents, you will skew the percentage. The fact remains 1789 ticking ‘yes’ to a bypass out of 4351 is 41%, and the report adds that 1747 indicating a preferred route is just 40%. We now learn quite a few volunteered preference for an Eastern route, so the actual percentage supporting a Western will be only thirty something percent, and of those only 121 or about 3% voted positively for the Red Route.

Yet I am reminded that at Full Council on 9th March, the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure said “it would be wrong to set a percentage” to the question and he is recorded as adding he would press on with his bypass no matter what. In that case would he kindly beg our indulgence for misleading us to thinking we had a say and for spending public money collecting data he uses as he chooses?

I must correct your reply to my original question, and the Consultants’ presentation on the results of the Consultation where the line ‘59% agreed a bypass form part of the package’ was mischievously repeated in one of the slides.  This ignores the significance of the fact a very large number of respondents declined to be drawn on the subject of a bypass at all.

The message from the Consultation and from the IoC, Green and Independent group presentations, is that it is overwhelmingly the active/sustainable transport measures people want.  Also that few outside the conservative group – and I suspect several thoughtful individuals within the conservative group –  buy the narrative this is only to be considered if, at ruinous environmental and financial cost, we accept your ‘bypass’ and masses of car-dependent urban sprawl.  This is outdated 1970s thinking when, for the sake of our health and well-being we need to embrace 21st century values and behaviors in a convincing and enlightened way.

Yours sincerely

Jeremy Milln

For reference, here are the council meeting public questions and answers on the subject:

Cabinet 27 July 2018

Submitted Question: Para 11 of the report for Cabinet, states ‘A total of 4,351 questionnaires were either fully or partially completed’, and in para 15, ‘1789 of these respondents (59%) said they agreed that a bypass should from part of the package’. The claim, at para 24, that this represents a majority is untruthful, since of course 1789 respondents ticking ‘yes’ from a total of 4351 questionnaires is 41% not 59%. What is the number or proportion of this 41% who, in the consultation form comments boxes, indicated a preference for an Eastern route?

 Response

I must correct the statement included in the question; the Phase 2 Consultation Report is not untruthful. Paragraph 15 of the Cabinet Report is quite clear that 3,033 people responded to the question ‘Do you agree that a bypass should form part of the package?’ Of these respondents, 1,789 (or 59%) said that they agreed a bypass should form part of the package. This indicates clear support for the bypass.

Full Council 9 March 2018

Submitted Question: The Hereford Transport Package consultation asks respondents if they agree that a bypass should form part of a package. What percentage answering No to this question will result in the bypass proposals being dropped?

Response: It would be wrong to set a percentage in relation to a single question as you propose – this is a consultation not a referendum. To do so would be to disregard the comprehensive evidence base which informed the Core Strategy adopted by Council in 2015 and which confirms that the bypass scheme is needed to deliver the county’s growth.

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